Qatar Airways is the national airline of the State of Qatar and is currently one of the fastest growing airlines in the world. No surprise here because the state itself is developing rapidly, despite having a population of just 2.1 million. Qatar currently has the world’s third largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves in excess of 25 billion barrels, which have fueled Qatar to become the world’s richest country per capita and achieve the highest human development in the Arab World and 36th highest globally.
Think Singapore and Singapore Airlines on steroid if we have natural resources. That’s Qatar and Qatar Airways.
Long-haul flights via Qatar Airways are competitively priced and entails a transfer at Doha, the capital city of Doha. You can take the opportunity to do a stopover for a day or two to tour the city. Note that visa is required for Singaporeans.
Doha is a modern and rapidly developing city, much like Singapore. It looks set to become one of the premier cities in the Gulf within a few years. On my last trip to Barcelona with Qatar Airways, we had a stopover in Doha on the way back and spent one night in the capital.
Within a day, we covered three attractions – 4WD desert sand dune adventure, explore Souq Waqif, the renovated Arabic market quarter and enjoyed seafood along Al-Corniche, a long seaside promenade that curves around Doha Bay.
We stayed at the 5-star Mövenpick Hotel Doha:
After a hearty international breakfast at the hotel, we headed off to Qatar Airways HQ and a tour of Hamad International Airport. This was followed by lunch and a trip to the Qatari desert on a 4WD vehicle with an experienced local driver cum guide.
I have been to deserts in India, Australia, Israel and other countries. They pretty much look the same everywhere, but just as astonishing and scary as to the power of nature.
This was the first time I am touring a desert on a 4WD vehicle. the ride was smoother than I anticipated. The thrill is when the driver speed the vehicle up or down steep sand dunes or even just drag it horizontally across the slope. You would think the car is going to topple over together with you and the other passengers, but somehow, the wheels are glued to the inclined sand.
There are many desert safari tour operators in Doha. You can book one online or book one after you have arrived in Doha. It is definitely something worth trying, especially if you have not visited a desert before.
Some pictures to share on the 4WD adventure ride:
After the desert tour, we headed to Souq Waqif to do some shopping and soak into the local atmosphere. The place is newly renovated and very orderly. It is more or less organised by what is being sold. One can easily wander around the maze-like corridors for hours and get lost. The best way for me to describe it is that it is likened to a smaller Arabic version of the Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, Thailand.
There are sections selling spices, textiles and even exotic pets:
If you get tired of shopping, you can find a nice little cafe, order some masala tea and smoke a Sheesha (water-pipe):
The last attraction on our itinerary was dinner at Al-Corniche, a long seaside promenade that curves around Doha Bay and affords pretty views of the city’s skyscrapers.
We had seafood at L’wzaar restaurant, an award-winning, popular large seafood specialty restaurant in Doha. Other than tourists and expats, many locals frequent the restaurant as well. It was pretty good:
After a good meal, we took a short stroll along the promenade before heading back to our hotel and bidding farewell to the charming little city of Doha: